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Deadlifting My Way Through Life: A Mindset

The last two years have been disruptive: my husband of 35 years was seriously ill (but recovered after 6 months and two  surgeries), I was let go from my job with no warning, my elderly mom stopped driving so I had to sell her condo and find her a place to live closer to me since I am the primary caregiver; and my new job-although rewarding- pays less than half the salary I was formerly making.

My fitness routine was completely disrupted. I went from running 3-4 times a week religiously, to forcing myself to run 1-2 times a week. I was told by my former trainer he dreaded seeing me walk into his gym (notice I said “his gym” not my gym), and so I joined a new gym. I stopped bothering to work on my Olympic lifts. My 5K race times increased, my body weight increased, and my weights decreased. With few scheduling options available, I could no longer attend personal training sessions, so I decided to give Cross Fit classes a try 4 months ago. For the most part I have been managing to get to classes twice a week, waking up very early in the morning and driving to the gym to be ready for a 6:15am class.

I feel as if I am just the shell of the person I was 2 years ago and I am very afraid I am aging more quickly because of it. To prove myself wrong, in spite of all the life changing events and emotional challenges I have experienced this past year,  I am determined to keep one constant in my life-the Deadlift.

I have been deadlifting with a barbell for almost 10 years. In fact, this will be my tenth year. Even though my other lifts have gone by the wayside and my running mileage and speed have declined, I am determined to lift 200 pounds this year. In fact, although my 1 rep max has declined for nearly every lift, overall, Cross Fit classes have actually helped me become physically and mentally stronger. Using my friends’ Mindsets for Learning (to help explain it, here is why:

  • FLEXIBILITY-I am getting up early to attend classes-something I swore I would never do, but it is my only option
  • PERSEVERANCE– The workouts are expected to be completed-there is no sitting down or giving up. Even though the youngest person in my classes is most likely 10 years younger than me I get it done.
  • RESILIENCE– When life gets tough, get tougher. There have been so many days in this last year when I have simply wanted to give up and feel sorry for myself; getting to the gym gives me 45 minutes of freedom from dwelling on my sorry self.
  • OPTIMISM– The people at my new gym are genuinely positive people and they accept me for who I am-a quiet, sometimes oblivious older woman who just wants to work out. They are not judgey
  • EMPATHY– Everyone of us has good days and bad days, good years and bad years; there is always someone worse off than me. I try to remember how fortunate I am to be able to drive to the gym and lift heavy things up off the ground. Even if that is the only thing I can do. Which it is not.

So even though my life has changed, my routines have changed, my responsibilities and stressors have changed, I have less time to do what I love, I am older, weaker, and more tired, I can still show up at the gym twice a week and deadlift. As the weeks go by, I am slowly building strength and resilience, seeing the weight creeping up. As the weight creeps up, I find myself feeling more confident. Lifting weights strengthens the body and the psyche. I am hopeful my deadlift routine will lead to a more healthy mindset overall, which will in turn lead me back toward myself and my life. But for now, I am just showing up making my deadlift a priority. One lift at a time.

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